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Celebrate the Fourth safely and legally
Fire safety column
Kristian Johanson
Kristian Johanson is deputy chief of the Hinesville Fire Department. - photo by File photo

With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, the Hinesville Fire Department wants to remind the public that while fireworks can be fun, they can also be quite dangerous. Be sure to follow these important safety measures:

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

• Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.

• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children can suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

• Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

It is also important to ensure that fireworks are legal in your area before you buy or use them and to make sure that you are well aware of the laws regarding the use of fireworks. The following must be abided by in Georgia and in the city of Hinesville:

• Person igniting fireworks must be at least 18 years of age.

• Fireworks may not be ignited indoors or within the right-of-way of a public road, street or railroad.

• Fireworks may be ignited in the city of Hinesville between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. any day of the year, and on Jan. 1 of each year from midnight to 1 a.m.

• Fireworks may not be ignited within 100 yards of a water-treatment plant, wastewater-treatment plant, facility engaged in the sale of gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids or gases where the volume stored is in excess of 500 gallons for the purpose of retail sale, any public or private electric substation, or in a jail or prison.

• Fireworks may not be ignited by people under the influence of alcohol or any drug or any combination of alcohol or any drug to the extent of impairment.

Any person found guilty of violating the laws governing fireworks shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, which may constitute a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail or both.

Be smart and safe, and have a great day celebrating America!

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